When Jesus Wept - By Bodie


Before he called me forth from the grave, Jesus wept. His was not the loud, frantic keening of the women who mourned outside my tomb. His was a sigh and a groan and a single salty tear. It was, at first, almost imperceptible, even to those standing closest to him.

But his sigh shook the universe, and the place where I was quaked. I stood in the midst of those who watched and waited for all things to be set right.

Jesus groaned, and the heads of angels and saints turned to look down upon the earth in wonder.

His tear trickled down his cheek, and a spring burst forth at my feet. Pure, clear water spilled from its banks and flowed down a mountainside, leaving a myriad of new stars, like flowers, blooming and rising in its wake.

I remember thinking, On a clear night, constellations above the earth reflect on the still surface of the sea. But here? Only one of Jesus’ tears contains a galaxy.

My eternal companions and I listened. We heard his voice echo from Bethany across the universe! He commanded, “Roll away the stone!”

We all waited in anticipation for the next word from his lips.

Then Jesus spoke my name: “Lazarus!”

Surely he could not mean me, I thought. But all the same, I whispered, “Here I am, Lord.”

Centuries have come and gone since his holy sob ripped me loose from timeless conversation with the ageless ones. Ten thousand, thousand scholars and saints have asked, “Why? What made the King of Heaven bow his head and cover his eyes and spill holy tears onto the earth? Why? Why did Jesus weep?”

Part One

When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give you … wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant … be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.


Chapter 1

The sun rose over the garden where my wife and newborn son lay in a newly cut tomb. Thirty days had passed since my Eliza had died in childbirth, taking with her all my hopes and joy. Spring had come to Judea. The vineyards were all in bud, bursting with the promise of new life, but in my heart, death reigned. My life had been pruned as savagely as the most severely clipped and seemingly barren vines in the depth of winter. Ironically, today was my thirtieth birthday.

By rote I spoke the final words of Kaddish and placed two stones of remembrance before the grave. The official days of mourning were at an end, but as I walked to the Bethany synagogue mikvah to wash away the ashes of my sorrow, I still carried the weight of my grief with me.

Near the ark containing the Torah scrolls, a minyan of ten village leaders prayed the morning prayers. They did not look my way or speak to me of Eliza and the baby. There was nothing left to say. Custom declared that this morning was officially the moment for me to get on with living.

I accepted their seeming indifference as I stepped into the cool bath and immersed myself, sinking my curly, unkempt hair into the water’s tomblike embrace. When I emerged, I still found my thoughts returning to the beautiful woman I had loved with all my heart, and to the baby boy who had lived only three short days.

If only …

Did my persistent sorrow show in my face? Did resentment for the brevity of grief permitted me reflect in my eyes?

Judah ben Perez, my friend since childhood, greeted me when I had dressed in clean clothes and emerged into the late spring sunlight. Now we were both widowers—he for many years—but I resented and rejected any comparison between his stoic acceptance and my too fresh, too painful sense of loss.

“The peace of HaShem is with you, David ben Lazarus, my brother!” His tone was too bright, as if he had forgotten Eliza was gone. His words hurt me like light hurts the eyes when one looks directly into the sun.

“And with you, Judah.”

“Welcome back.” He took my arm as though I had been gone on a long journey. “Have you heard the news from Jerusalem?”

Being a rich merchant in the nation’s capital, Judah was much better positioned than most to receive the news from the wider world. His trading caravans regularly made journeys to and from Petra, Ecbatana, and